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Paid Sick Leave

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Paid Sick Leave Laws

At this writing, there are no U.S. laws that require employers to provide a paid sick leave benefit. Worse, employers don't have to provide a sick leave benefit even without pay, except as noted below.

The good news is, in April 2005 Senator Edward Kennedy introduced the Healthy Families Act, through Senate Bill S.932. If the Act as initially introduced becomes Federal law, it will require employers in all states who employ 15 or more employees to provide at least minimal, sick leave benefits. Better yet, employers will have to offer paid sick leave, as follows.

  • 7 days of paid sick leave annually for employees working 30 or more hours per week or
  • A pro rata number of days or hours of paid sick leave annually for employees working less than:
    • 30 hours per week on a year-round basis or
    • 1,500 hours throughout the year involved

Paid Sick Leave for Family Care

Even better, the Healthy Families Act as initially introduced has provisions for employees to take paid sick leave to care for family members, in addition to themselves.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to grant qualified employees up to 12 weeks of sick leave to care for themselves or family members. But it does not require employers to grant paid sick leave. It also doesn't require employers to offer a traditional sick leave benefit, as does the Healthy Families Act.

Paid Sick Leave Bill Purpose

The purpose of paid sick leave under the Healthy Families Act is paraphrased below.

  • Ensure that all working Americans can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families
  • Diminish health care costs by enabling workers to seek early and routine medical care for themselves and family members
  • Minimize potential employment discrimination on the basis of sex, by ensuring paid sick leave is available on a gender-neutral basis

You can research the Healthy Families Act at THOMAS, an official government Website that provides Federal legislative information from the Library of Congress. If the Act becomes law, this article will be updated. Until the Act becomes law, the information in the article Sick Leave Pay applies.

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